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Agronomy Journal Abstract - SOIL MANAGEMENT

Tillage Intensity, Mycorrhizal and Nonmycorrhizal Fungi, and Nutrient Concentrations in Maize, Wheat, and Canola


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 92 No. 6, p. 1117-1124
    Received: June 15, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): ahmad.mozafar@ipw.agrl.ethz.ch
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  1. Ahmad Mozafar *a,
  2. Thomas Ankenb,
  3. Richard Ruha and
  4. Emmanuel Frossarda
  1. a Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Inst. of Technology (ETH), Eschikon Experiment Station, Lindau, CH-8315 Switzerland
    b Swiss Federal Research Station (FAT), Tänikon, CH-8356 Switzerland


Reduced tillage can change numerous physico-chemical properties of soil and the activity of various microorganisms including mycorrhizal and pathogenic soil fungi, and thus influence nutrient uptake by plant roots. We studied the colonization of roots by mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal fungi and nutrient concentrations in plant tops grown during a 3-yr rotation of maize (Zea mays L.), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and canola (Brassica napus L.) in two sites in Switzerland where fields have been under three tillage treatments (conventional, CT; chisel plow, CP; and no-tillage, NT) since 1987. Maize roots were colonized to a greater extent by mycorrhizal fungi with NT than with CP or CT treatments. Wheat roots were equally and weakly colonized by mycorrhizal fungi in all treatments but were relatively heavily (up to 35% of the root length) colonized by several nonmycorrhizal fungi such as Olpidium, Polymyxa, and Gaeumannomyces–Phialophora complex. Canola roots, as expected, were not colonized by any mycorrhizal fungi but were colonized by O. brassicae Reduced tillage intensity altered the concentration of some nutrients in the leaves of mycorrhizal host plants (maize and wheat) but did not change those in nonhost canola. Changes in nutrient concentrations in maize and wheat leaves were likely due to the combined effects of colonization of their roots by various mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal fungi and not to some changes in the physical or chemical properties of soils. Cluster analysis showed that Mn concentration in wheat leaves was closely related to the Gaeumannomyces–Phialophora complex and concentrations of Ca, K, and Zn were related to tillage intensity and to the Polymyxa colonization of roots. We conclude that the colonization of roots by nonmycorrhizal root parasites, and especially by nonfilamentous obligate fungi, need to be taken into account in mycorrhizal studies conducted under field conditions.

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